I was recently part of a panel at The Holmes Report in2 Innovation Summit in Berlin discussing luxury brands and how they are adapting to an increasingly digital world. The resounding conclusion was that luxury brands need to accept that they no longer retain full control of the messaging around their brand and should seize the opportunities presented by social.
Burberry was an early adopter of digital, launching its own social platform, The Art of Trench, in 2009, and is no doubt one of the most successful luxury brands in the digital space, but seven years later and it seems many luxury brands are still shying away from trying out new channels.
Part of the reason is that most luxury brands want full control over their social channels, but don’t have enough resource or time to properly invest, but a big part of it is about not feeling confident enough to relinquish control. After all, much of a luxury brand’s brand equity is in its exclusive appeal, so remaining aspirational feels safer and more comfortable for some brands. But luxury brands invariably have a rich heritage and history to draw on to tell their stories and create a world to which consumers aspire.
How then do luxury brands retain their core luxury values while building advocacy amongst the ever more powerful influencer and blogger community so they tell their story? It all comes down to two-way trust and some old-fashioned collaboration.
The influential and the virtual
Luxury brands have to build long term relationships with influencers in the same way they would with the celebrity brand ambassadors that have long been associated with luxury brand marketing campaigns. Luxury brands that have enough confidence to work with these influencers will quickly outpace those who just want to control the messaging.
We recently worked on a major launch event for a luxury brand and a key part of our strategy was providing influencers and bloggers with cameras and access to all areas of the event. Working collaboratively with influencers and giving them the assets they need allows them to tell the story in their way while still referencing the all-important provenance, heritage and craftsmanship of the brand.
If getting to grips with the new digital world has been a challenge for luxury brands then there is another challenge just around the corner.
Every brand which wants to be seen as innovative is talking about virtual reality. In the luxury space, VR will be a game-changer, making it possible for users to put on a headset and be FROW at the hottest fashion shows and launches in town. It’s the ultimate channel because it’s immersive and will allow brands to build stronger emotional connections with customers and influencers alike.
The next year is going to be very exciting for anyone in comms, as social media and VR continue to dominate conversations around the boardroom table, and for the most forward-thinking luxury brands the opportunities abound.
James Myers is group managing director at TVC Group